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Human folly, it seems, traces not only to ignorance and impulsiveness but also to the power of wishes that the erring agent acknowledges as unfit to motivate him. The possibility of genuinely perverse preference can be either denied or explained. To explain it, sense must be made of how a person’s understanding of the choices before him could fail to decide his preference—how what convinces could fail to persuade. The question is how the influence a given consideration has over a person’s choice can be other than a function of the beliefs he holds about its merits, so that as between competing considerations the one esteemed best doesn’t win, despite continuing to be esteemed best.
Sacred music expresses and evokes emotional attitudes of distinctive kinds. Even people who are irreligious in their beliefs can find themselves moved by it in these ways. It has been suggested that for an unbeliever to cherish the experience of sacred music may actually constitute a form of sentimentality. This paper considers just what the appeal of this sort of music is, to believers as well as to unbelievers. There are non-religious musical works that have similar emotional content Everyday life prevents many important emotions from being experienced as consummately as they could be. Art can allow this to happen, can be a vehicle for emotion of the last instance. Indeed, a religious belief system is in part a similar vehicle. In art, where there is no gesture at belief, the risk of sentimentality is, if anything, less.
Christabel Bielenberg must be one of the few people to have sought out an appointment with the Gestapo. An Englishwoman married to a senior German civil servant, she was determined somehow to free her husband, who was being held in the aftermath of the 1944 assassination attempt against Hitler. As she related it on Desert Island Discs, her success in facing down the forbidding official who eventually received her owed to the sight of a uniformed female officer leaning over one of the reception desks and repeatedly slapping a rather gracious old man across the face. ‘All of a sudden my fear vanished and I was filled with pure rage.’ For it was in that condition that she entered the interviewing room. Reflecting on this decades later, she opined majesterially, ‘I don't think it possible to have two intense and opposite emotions simultaneously.’
Thomas Nagel claimed that subjectivity is what distinguishes those states known in the vernacular as conscious or as experiences. And he argued that subjectivity eludes reductivist theories of mind, which are obliged to ignore it and hence to fail. I shall be concerned here primarily with the formulation of the concept of subjectivity. Nagel tried to delineate subjectivity in a well known phrase: ‘an organism has conscious mental states if and only if there is something it is like to be that organism—something it is like for the organism’. Nagel offers to explain this condition of being host to conscious experience as the organism's having a point of view on the world, a point of view which is its own and nothing else's, however much or little the world as disclosed by it may agree with what is presented from other points of view.
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